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The bishop who secretly consecrated Russia to Mary … in Moscow

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Copyright by Archív biskupa Pavla M. Hnilicu SJ v Nových Hradoch

Bp Pavol Hnilica

Marzena Devoud - published on 03/31/22

When Pope John Paul II solemnly consecrated the world to Mary in St. Peter's Square in Rome, he entrusted a Jesuit bishop with the special mission to perform the same act in the heart of the Kremlin.

Within the walls of the Vatican, some people used to call him the James Bond of John Paul II’s pontificate. Indeed, the Polish pope regularly charged him with special missions that were as secret as they were dangerous. For example, going to Moscow to secretly celebrate Mass and consecrate Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary … the day before the same act of consecration pronounced by John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on March 25, 1984.

At a time when the Soviet Union was crushed by a totalitarian and officially atheistic regime, this task had all the makings of an impossible mission. But not for Pavel Hnilica (1921-2006), a Slovakian Jesuit who was clandestinely ordained a priest in 1950, in the midst of the religious persecution that communist Czechoslovakia was undergoing at the time. He was finally exiled to Rome and appointed bishop in the greatest secrecy in 1951 by Pius XII. In 1976, he met Bishop Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II.

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